At this point, the word “Countdown” doesn’t seem to bode well, does it? I’m not talking about the “Great Disaster” that’s soon to occur (if the main “Countdown” series is to be believed). No, I’m talking about how much time and money has been invested in this “Coundown” brand, and with less than two months left, what does DC have to show for it? A bunch of mediocre spin-off series that will be forgotten within a few months, including the started-strong-but-has-derailed-quite-entirely “Countdown to Adventure.”
The idea of continuing the story of the wayward space travelers from “52” — Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange — seemed like a good one, and Adam Beechen gave us a nice first issue full of domestic awkwardness (Buddy Baker, you’re really going to drag that unconscious, nearly naked girl inside the house? Have you been spending your days off watching “Black Snake Moan?” Are you going to try to cure her with the sweet, soulful blues?) and action hero bombast (replacing Adam Strange as defender of Rann? The awesomely-named Champ Hazard, from Hollywood, California). Eddy Barrows provided his lanky Neal Adams riff on the art back then too, but he had to move on to draw “Teen Titans,” leaving the visual storytelling in the hands of Allan Goldman, who makes the book look like a “WildC.A.T.S.” spin-off title, circa 1998.
In issue #7, we get the story of the assembled heroes, Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange, once again united on some zany quest, fighting against an intergalactic plague of zombie-vampires who talk a lot about Lady Styx. That all sounds well and good, I’m sure, but it has taken six previous issues to even get up to this point, and when you have an entire eight-issue series about costumed characters flying around zapping ugly guys with big teeth, and half of those issues were just set-up, then the action had better be pretty engrossing. It’s not. It’s pedestrian and perfunctory and any other word that make you realize that there’s not much substance to fill up this many issues.
I know Beechen tries to throw in some subtext here and there, and the thematic thread is “recovery” — recovery of Starfire’s powers, recovery of Adam Strange’s position as Rann’s defender, recovery of Buddy Baker’s slightly-fractured marriage. But it all feels like those chatty “character-based” scenes in a horror flick. Nobody really cares what the pretty people chat about between moments of violence. We’re just waiting for the monsters to pop out from behind the dresser. And, in “Countdown to Adventure,” when the monsters do pop out, they’re just aren’t very frightening.
I should also note that this, and every, issue of Countdown to Adventure includes a new installment of the adventures Forerunner. Remember her? That sensational new character who popped up in the early issues of “Countdown” and then kind of disappeared? Well, she doesn’t do much here either, other than run around through the multiverse and scowl. You’re not missing anything.